Ten years ago, Janet Jackson had her infamous “nip slip” at the Super Bowl.
I apparently was a very opinionated 14 year old, as I recently found a poster of an editorial I had written for a local newspaper about the impact of sexually suggestive music and performances on children and teens. I vaguely remember being told after I won the contest that my 8th grade English teacher had entered our editorials in a contest and had forgotten to tell us. I think I ended up getting $50 and a pair of movie tickets out of the gig. (That was a huge deal to me!)
My editorial kind of makes me laugh. I started out with the phrase “Society today,” something I remember over-using non-stop in my teen writing. I was very passionate about defending the media and its role in the lives of children and teens in a time before the age of Twitter, Instagram, or even Facebook. I think I had just received my first cellphone, a fliphone used solely for phone calls after 9pm when our minutes were free.
It’s interesting to me that the prompt is talking about MTV and all the music videos on the channel. I was in middle school back when MTV was primarily a station for music videos. I wonder what 14 year old me would have written in an age of Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, or, one of my TLC guilty pleasures, My Mom is Pregnant and So Am I. Would I have been appalled? Would I have been engaged? Would I have been a different person?
I was very blunt in my attitude of believing that sex jokes and adult humor started because of teens understanding the concept of sex. Would my reaction have been the same if I were a heterosexual teenage girl? At age 14, I was beginning to become intrigued by the idea of women dating other women. I didn’t know– or acknowledge– my own attraction to women for another few years. How much did these suppressed feelings impact my thoughts on Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl performance?
Today, I’d have to agree with my 14 year old self– the music and media of 2004 was in no way as sexually explicit as today’s music and media. Ten years ago, the world was shocked by Janet Jackson’s “nip slip.” Today, celebrity gossip sites pay top dollar and post pictures of various celebrities baring their “nips”– and more. The shock value of pop culture has worn off, and we are living in an ever-changing, ever-evolving time. Fourteen year old me would probably be shocked by what our “society today” has to offer, but I can’t say twenty-four year old me is.
In a world of twerking, selfie-Olympics, and songs explicitly about sex, I’d probably be shocked if there was anyone left surprised by what pop-culture and the media showcases and values.